Law is a system of rules that provides a framework to ensure a peaceful society. These rules can be enforced by imposing sanctions on those who break them. In addition to providing a sense of order, laws help to protect people from injustice and promote social justice.
In a legal context, a law may refer to any written or positive rule prescribed by some authority as binding on its citizens, or the department of knowledge dealing with such rules (jurisprudence). The term is sometimes used in a wider sense to refer to a general system of government, including a constitution, political party or religious belief.
While many laws are based on religion, some are explicitly secular. These include the Jewish Halakha, Islamic Shari’ah and Christian canon law. Some secular laws are derived from religion via human elaboration, such as Qiyas (reasoning by analogy) and Ijma (consensus).
Law shapes politics, economics, history and society in many ways, and is a mediator between different groups and individuals. Generally, the law is a mediator of power between governments and their citizens and among nations. In addition to providing a structure for peace and order, it helps to prevent war, preserve property and settle disputes.
The law also sets standards for taxation, banking and other financial services, protects copyright, trademarks, and patents, and regulates the activities of private and public corporations. It also protects the environment and regulates animal cruelty. The law also establishes the rights of parents to a child, provides for family reunification and adoption, and deals with terrorism, crime, and other serious issues.
Those who work in the legal profession are referred to as lawyers or judges. They are usually trained through university programs that result in a Bachelor of Laws, a Bachelor of Civil Law, or a Juris Doctor degree. They must follow strict ethical rules to avoid conflicts of interest. They are often regulated by independent governing bodies, such as a bar council or law society.
There are also a wide range of specialist areas of the law, such as space law or labour law. These are becoming increasingly important as the world becomes more interconnected. It is also possible to have a career as a consultant in the field of legal technology, which involves developing computer software that can assist with the preparation of legal documents. There is also a growing body of law concerning cyberlaw, which addresses issues that arise in relation to the internet. The development of such laws is complicated by the fact that it is not always clear who owns and controls information that is published on the internet. This is known as the “law of the jungle” problem.